Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 37 Joshua Bryan, incoming freshman kicker

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Listed measurements: 6-foot, 185 pounds.
2021-22 year, eligibility: The one class on Notre Dame’s roster with clear eligibility parameters, Bryan has four seasons of eligibility remaining.
Depth Chart: Presuming health for fifth-year Jonathan Doerer, taking advantage of the year of eligibility granted by the pandemic exception, Bryan should do nothing but back up Doerer, if not also junior walk-on Harrison Leonard, and learn the rhythms of the collegiate game.
Recruiting: The Irish waited to offer Bryan a scholarship until some pandemic uncertainty was cleared up by the NCAA. Throughout that time, when he was committed to Colorado, Notre Dame special teams coordinator Brian Polian stayed in contact with Bryan, telling him up front why the Irish had not yet offered a scholarship.

When Notre Dame knew Doerer would not count against its scholarship limit in 2021, Polian then offered Bryan a firm scholarship, and that led to a quick flip from the Polynesian Bowl invitee.

WHY MAYBE NO. 37?
Because predicting a kicker’s number feels impossible, but No. 37 is open on the Irish roster and slots Bryan in for this weekend publishing. No offense to the incoming freshman, but if there is a player to not be entirely up-to-date on in 2021, it is probably the backup kicker.

For what it’s worth, Bryan wore No. 10 in high school, a number currently owned by sophomore backup quarterback Drew Pyne and fifth-year linebacker Isaiah Pryor.

UPDATED IN MID-JULY
Bryan will wear No. 91, per some updates on Notre Dame’s athletics website.

NAME, IMAGE, LIKENESS
There should be some “clutch” opportunity for a well-regarded kicker to capitalize on his name, image and likeness. Given the increasing rarity of manual transmissions, that is probably not via an auto shop, but some pun exists out there for someone more creative to come up with.

But in the meantime, small sponsorship opportunities should exist with particular kicking circuits.

QUOTE
Polian has no designs of a position competition, despite certainly thinking highly of Bryan.

“I don’t want to count on a freshman (for kicking),” he said during December’s signing period. “It’s not great. It’s hard to do. … In an ideal situation, you would like to have a guy on your campus for a year to hope to get them ready and get them prepared and help him to develop physically and get stronger. That allowed us to do that.

“… When we entered into the summer (of 2020), my assumption was that we were going to have to identify a kicker that could come in here and do it as a true freshman. So this is maybe one of the few instances where the circumstances of everything that was happening around us in the world might have helped us a little bit.”

WHAT WAS SAID WHEN BRYAN SIGNED
“Not to read too much into it, but Bryan’s mature handling of the ebbs and flows of his recruitment suggest he’ll have the level head needed to handle the pressures of kicking in front of 78,000 fans. (Let’s hope we someday get back to a reality of 78,000 fans in Notre Dame Stadium.)

“Part of the nuance to Bryan’s recruitment was the chaos involved in understanding roster construction during a pandemic. Once the Irish coaching staff knew it could be over the 85 scholarship limit next season, carrying two kickers became acceptable.

“Jonathan Doerer’s fifth-year in 2020 should include some records, but once he has then departed, expect Bryan to handle all kicking duties for four seasons and, if the offense is high-powered in those years, subsequently threaten Doerer’s records.”

2021 OUTLOOK
Polian said it in no uncertain terms. He does not want to rely on a freshman kicker, and will not rely on a freshman kicker. The last time the Irish deployed a freshman kicker in any respect was Doerer’s freshman season, in 2017. His tendency to botch kickoffs nearly severed the Polian-Brian Kelly working relationship before it had a chance to genuinely begin.

Bryan probably does not have that same tick in his form, but he may have some tick in his form. Taking the 2021 season to suss it out will be an exercise in caution and proactive coaching, rather

DOWN THE ROAD
Notre Dame will be willing to pull in a walk-on to challenge Bryan if needed between 2022 and 2025. David Ruffer usurped Nick Tausch in Kelly’s maiden year. The Irish brought in Leonard to spark some competitive fire in Doerer in 2019. It should be noted, Doerer responded.

And Leonard will presumably still be around in 2022, but that aside, Bryan has some job security moving forward. He also has a high bar to meet. For the most part, Notre Dame has avoided the kicker pratfalls that so often plague college football powerhouses. Bryan will not need to be perfect, but the Irish will need to know they can rely on him.

NOTRE DAME 99-TO-0
Let’s try this again
No. 99 Rylie Mills, sophomore defensive tackle
No. 98 Alexander Ehrensberger, sophomore defensive end
No. 97 Gabriel Rubio, early-enrolled freshman defensive tackle the size of a Volkswagen
No. 95 Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, fifth-year defensive tackle-turned-end
No. 92 Aidan Keanaaina, sophomore defensive tackle
No. 88 Mitchell Evans, early-enrolled freshman tight end, a former high school quarterback
No. 87 Michael Mayer, star sophomore tight end and lead offensive weapon
No. 85 George Takacs, senior tight end, ‘152 years old’
No. 84 Kevin Bauman, sophomore tight end
No. 82 Xavier Watts, sophomore receiver
No. 81 Jay Brunelle, speedy sophomore receiver
No. 80 Cane Berrong, early-enrolled freshman tight end
No. 79 Tosh Baker, sophomore offensive tackle
No. 78 Pat Coogan, incoming freshman center
No. 77 Quinn Carroll, junior offensive lineman
No. 76 Joe Alt, incoming and towering freshman offensive lineman
No. 75 Josh Lugg, fifth-year right tackle, finally a starter
No. 73 Andrew Kristofic, junior offensive tackle, possible backup center
No. 72 Caleb Johnson, early-enrolled offensive tackle, former Auburn commit
No. 70 Hunter Spears, junior offensive guard, former defensive tackle
No. 68 Michael Carmody, sophomore offensive tackle
No. 62 Marshall guard Cain Madden transfers to Notre Dame, likely 2021 starter
No. 57 Jayson Ademilola, senior defensive tackle
No. 56 John Dirksen, senior reserve offensive lineman
No. 56 Howard Cross, junior defensive tackle
No. 55 Jarrett Patterson, the best Irish offensive lineman
No. 54 Jacob Lacey, junior defensive tackle
No. 54 Blake Fisher, early-enrolled freshman left tackle, starter?
No. 52 Zeke Correll, junior, starting center
No. 52 Bo Bauer, senior linebacker, #BeADog
No. 50 Rocco Spindler, early-enrolled freshman offensive guard
No. 48 Will Schweitzer, early-enrolled freshman defensive end
No. 44 Devin Aupiu, early-enrolled freshman defensive end
No. 44 Alex Peitsch and No. 65 Michael Vinson, Irish long snappers, both needed
No. 41 Kurt Hinish, fifth-year defensive tackle, eventual record-holder in games played
No. 40 Drew White, fifth-year linebacker, three-year starter
No. 39 Jonathan Doerer, fifth-year kicker, using the pandemic exception
No. 38 Jason Onye, incoming and raw freshman defensive end